If you have heard about chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome, these terms are often utilized interchangeably but they are actually different conditions that are diagnosed and treated in a different way.
What is fatigue?
It is important to note that fatigue is a common complaint many doctors hear. In most cases, it can be due to lack of sleep, stress, overexertion or even minor illnesses such as common cold.
Usually, fatigue vanishes once the individual gets enough rest or recovers from a sickness. In both chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome, fatigue is constant and extreme. This makes it hard or impossible for the individual to function even at the basic level. This is the feeling when the individual was seriously ill, coming out from anesthesia and severely deprived of sleep.
Close look on chronic fatigue
If an individual has chronic fatigue, it simply means that he/she experiences exhaustion or lack of energy for 6 months or longer. Remember that chronic fatigue is essentially a symptom of certain conditions which includes the following:
- Muscle or nerve diseases
- Immune or autoimmune disorders
- Endocrine diseases
- Organ diseases
- High level of stress
- Sleeping disorders or consistent lack of sleep
- Nutritional deficiency
In some circumstances, the causes of chronic fatigue such as nutritional deficiency or lack of sleep have an evident solution and somewhat easy to correct.
If caused by a chronic illness, chronic fatigue can be managed but not cured. In some circumstances, the doctor might not be able to determine the exact cause of chronic fatigue, but the individual does not meet the diagnostic requirement for chronic fatigue syndrome. Such cases are diagnosed as idiopathic chronic fatigue.
Close look on chronic fatigue syndrome
When an individual is diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, he/she experiences extreme, persistent fatigue that lasts longer than 6 months. In addition, the individual should also experience at least four of the following for longer than 6 months but after the fatigue:
- Post-exertional malaise (prolonged, extreme exhaustion after physical or mental activity)
- Impaired concentration or memory
- Muscle pain
- Sleep could not refresh the individual
- A new type of headache or different in severity
- Joint pain without redness or swelling
- Tender axillary or cervical lymph nodes
Aside from these diagnostic criteria, chronic fatigue syndrome has about 50 recognized symptoms including balance issues, dizziness, chemical sensitivities, allergies, anxiety, numbness, stiffness and erratic heartbeat. Even though not needed for a diagnosis, these symptoms can help the doctor determine what is going on inside the body.
So far, the doctors do not have a diagnostic test that can accurately detect chronic fatigue syndrome. Remember that the condition could not be cured and so far, there are no approved medications for treatment. With the studies conducted, healthcare professionals are becoming familiar with the causes of the condition as well as possible treatment options.